BY GRANT COATES, CHAIR
According to the Defense Prisoner of War/Missing in Action Accounting Agency (DPAA), as of December 26, there were 1,602 still missing from the Vietnam War. There has been no public announcement changing the number of missing since July 13.
On September 4 the Department of Defense announced the appointment of retired Air Force Maj. Gen. Kelly K. McKeague as DPAA Director. He was appointed sixteen months after the first director resigned in June 2016.
McKeague is responsible for policy, control, and oversight of all aspects of DPAA’s mission to account for U.S. missing personnel. He leads DoD’s worldwide operations of investigation, recovery, identification operations, research, and supporting functions to provide the fullest possible accounting of U.S. missing personnel.
In December 2015 McKeague retired as a major general after a 34-year USAF career. In his last two assignments he served as the first Deputy Director of DPAA and, before that, as Commander of the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii.
During President Trump’s state visit to Hanoi in November, he met with Vietnamese President Tran Dai Quang. Both leaders reaffirmed the importance of continued cooperation to address the legacies of war. President Trump expressed his appreciation for Vietnam’s full and continued cooperation in accounting for U.S. personnel still missing from the war and pledged to cooperate with Vietnam in its efforts to locate its missing soldiers. He said: “Our decades-long joint humanitarian efforts with the Vietnamese people and government to account for and recover personnel still missing—so important to us—from the war honors these horrors of this horrendous war. We want our servicemembers’ support—and we give total support to the families, and we strengthen the foundation of our comprehensive partnership. That is so important to us.”
U.S. and Russian delegates completed the 21st Plenum of the United States-Russia Joint Commission on POW/
MIAs on November 9 in Moscow. The USRJC was established in 1992 as an agreement between President George H.W. Bush and Russian President Boris Yeltsin to determine the fates of Americans from World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, and the Cold War who are believed to be missing in the former Soviet Union—or about whom the Russians may have information. The second goal of the Commission is to determine the fates of Russian servicemen who are still missing from several conflicts, including the Soviet Union’s war in Afghanistan from 1979-89.
This was the second USRJC plenum to be held since the sessions resumed in 2016 after an eleven-year hiatus. The next plenary session is scheduled for fall of 2018 in Washington, D.C.
Your help is still needed. Write and ask your elected officials to support full funding for DPAA operations and personnel for worldwide accounting and recovery efforts.